Underrated Worsted Weights
Certain yarns at Wool & Grace are persistent winners – the types of yarns that always sell. These are the ones that are usually beautiful to touch while still in the skein, or are dyed beautifully. Yarns like Woolstok and Shelter have such incredible pattern support that they tend to sell themselves. Then there are the yarns that are often missed by most of our shoppers. Those of us at Wool & Grace love them, because we’ve had the opportunity to work with them, live with them and see how they wear. Today I want to tell you about some of the sleeper hits at Wool & Grace, and we’re going to talk about the worsted weights since that’s the workhouse weight of yarn!
First on my list is HiKoo’s Kenzie. Do you notice that I always mention this as a great yarn for worsted weight projects? Not only have I knit the Pine Bough Cowl in this yarn, but I knit up Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Uniform Cardigan in it a few years ago. Kenzie comes in brilliant hues and is “fleckled” – like a tweed but a bit smoother. It’s also got a lot of twist and walks the line beautifully between a worsted weight and DK weight yarn. It’s a blend of wool, nylon, alpaca, angora and silk. This beautiful mixture blooms into a gorgeous fabric after blocking. So what looks like a relatively smooth, flat yarn, has the most gorgeous and soft halo once it’s been given a nice bath.
Now I’m working on The Ninilchik Swoncho in Kenzie, bringing the assets of this yarn into the forefront all over again. Even with its beautiful halo, Kenzie has amazing stitch definition. It’s ideal for color work, cables and other textures. It’s substantial without feeling heavy, has just a hint of drape and is wonderful for sweaters, cold weather accessories and blankets.
Given that is such a wonderful choice for colorwork, I think this yarn would be an awesome choice for a pattern like Humulus (MDK March Madness Winner!) by Isabel Kraemer or Tayberry by Cirilia Rose.
Katia’s Cotton Merino is another lush yarn brought back to our attention by Clara Parkes (yarn guru and brilliant writer) who reviewed the yarn in an recent edition of the Knitter’s Review. Check out Parkes’ review for yourself to get the real knitty gritty (did you catch that one?!). Cotton Merino sounds like a boring blend of cotton and wool, right? It’s not. It’s a brilliant construction consisting of a sturdy core of cotton with an ethereal halo of merino wool surrounding it. Maggie and I have both knit sweaters out of this yarn (both were kind of one-of-a-kinds). We’ve seen our knitters turn it into a beautiful version of Jared Flood’s Inversion, soft and cozy cowls, scarves, wraps and hats.
Cotton Merino also has gorgeous stitch definition, and holds up beautifully to various combinations of knits and purls, cables and more. I’ve also seen gorgeous color work done with this yarn, whether it be stripes or fair isle knitting! Consider knitting up Churchmouse’s Very Gifted Cowl in this, making a Beloved Hat or knitting up Shannon Cook’s Veronika cardigan.
My last sleeper hit is Spud & Chloe’s Sweater. Spud & Chloe is made for everyone in the family (especially kids) and Sweater is a lovely combination of super wash wool and organic cotton. Given it’s user friendly care, this is the yarn I turn to for kids knits. Sweater also has beautiful stitch definition, so whether you’re playing with color work or or texture, it will shine. It seems a bit stiff in the skein, but just like your favorite t-shirt or jeans, it softens the more you wear it.
Last year I made a cat sweater (done with intarsia featuring one of our beloved cats) out of Sweater, and every time I give it a good wash, I fall more in love with it. It seriously gets better as time goes on. I’ve made countless Baby Sophisticate and Little Coffee Bean sweaters out of this yarn, but consider this yarn for the adults also! Jorie was just relaying to me how she made a sweater for her grown daughter in Sweater, and of course mentioned how much she loves it! Consider color work for this yarn, and think about making something like the Campanula Hat or the Basic Norwegian Star Hat!
Loving all of these yarns, I can’t help but imagine using all three of these to separately knit up one particular sweater. I’d love to see the variety of results that a simple yarn can give you. Last week I told you about a sweater called Brick, and as an alternative I suggest you take a look at Jane Richmond’s Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover. As Jorie succinctly told us, it’s like Brick but more well written. It also comes in a nice range of sizes, and comes with a super handy chart that you can use to fill in your stitch counts/measurements into the pattern for ease of reading. Richmond’s sweater is just what it says: a classic pullover. I’m dreaming about the variety of results that would come from these three yarns. Sweater would be a workhorse, perfect for drinking coffee in the morning or shoveling snow. Kenzie’s pullover would have character and a hint of luxury, with it’s fleckle and halo. For the pullover made of Cotton Merino, I’d probably want to treat it like it was precious (since it’d look that way), and would elevate your jeans or pair perfectly with some polished trousers for one of those days when you really need to dress like an adult.
Next time you stop in looking for a worsted weight yarn, look at these wonderful yarns and watch them take your project to a level all their own.